29 October 2011

Pan Am Costume!

Check out my super sweet Halloween costume!!

Pan Am Costume!

I thought it turned out awesome! If I do say so myself!

Pan Am Costume!

I even bought bright pink lipstick.

Pan Am Costume!

Here's my attempt at the Life magazine cover shot. Too bad it looks nothing like it!

Pan Am Costume!

But wait, what if I do this?

My LIFE cover!

I am so in love with my costume! I am going to wear it all weekend + Monday. At work? Oh yeah baby. You betcha.

(Except for this damn girdle!)

27 October 2011

Pan Am Costume!

I knew in about the first 10 nanoseconds of the Pan Am premiere that I would be making a stewardess costume for Halloween. Because I want to be a Pan Am stewardess SO BAD! They flit around the world--Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, Burma, Monaco--staying at glamorous places, wearing the cutest little clothes, living in a brownstones in NYC. It perfectly appeals to all my adventurous sensibilities.

But apparently I am too old, too married, and too late (by about 50 years).

Here's where Halloween saves the day!

Pan Am Costume: Materials

I bought some blue suiting and some cool blue buttons. I have blue felt and white piping to make the little hat too. Although apparently I can make a cardboard one in a pinch (weird??).  I'm using Vogue 3021, Basic Suit Design, a vintage pattern from the 1960s. I got it in a huge box of patterns at an estate sale near campus years ago, where the seamstress was just my size (just for laughs, I will tell you I am a 1960 size 14, which means I am also probably TOO FAT to be a Pan Am stewardess!), the box said "Patterns $5" and they were all vintage designer patterns in my size so I carefully picked out 4 patterns that were really stellar so as to be worth the $5 each. Then when I went to pay, they said 'Oh no! The whole box is $5!' and then I think I blacked out a little and had a possible out of body experience, awakening out on the sidewalk talking to strangers about the box of sweeeeeeeeet patterns I just got.

Here's Mimi playing in the sewing room. It is in the basement so she usually prefers to root around in the other room for extension cords and tape measures and dirty clothes. So I had to snap a picture of her playing so sweet.

Mimi in the craft room

Her little imaginings were so funny to listen to. The weeble princess was waiting for the Tumble Fun Bus and thought she saw a dinosaur. "AHHHH! I see a dinoswar!" "Dat not a dinoswar, dat a chicken nugget!" "Oh! nom nom nom I go knitting wiff my fwiends now!"

I was just dying laughing.

I'll keep you posted on the costume!

23 October 2011

A visit from the Tooth Fairy

Lost Tooth!

A new smile!

Checking the tooth fairy pillow

The tooth fairy pillow.

Tooth fairy treasures

There is some money in there, you just can't see it! The fairy left a dollar coin, as well as some coins from around the world. She must get around!

Tooth fairy note

ETA: In case you're wondering, here's what the tooth fairy wrote!

Dear Bella,
 I heard you lost your first tooth and came as quickly as I could. I was very excited to visit your house and meet you (even if you were sleeping). My name is Pearl and I am your tooth fairy!
Thank you for leaving me your tooth. That was very kind and generous of you. What a shiny white tooth it is too! I love such a beautiful tooth like this one is. I bet you took good care of it. And your little tooth fairy pillow is so cute. I found it right away. 
I am taking your tooth back home with me to use in special fairy magic. But I am leaving you some very special fairy treasures in return. That is how tooth fairies work, and now you know. 
I will stop by again when you lose another tooth! 
Sweet Dreams, 
(your tooth fairy)

18 October 2011

All that Glitters is Gold

Al's Breakfast
[Al's Breakfast, Dinkytown USA]

Coffee and a blackberry wheat pancake. Eat it up. Be happy.

Al's Breakfast

A breakfast tradition held over from college days. (it's even better without chemistry flashcards!)

Al's Breakfast

What a lucky dog I am to still be at the same campus I first came to 17 years ago, and still eating at the same breakfast counter.

Wait, does that say SEVENTEEN? I must have done the math wrong. oh my lord.

The U of M

I like to say I liked college so much I never left. I have taken over 190 credits and had eight jobs. And spent a small fortune on blackberry pancakes.

I have done all kinds of jobs to stay at the U.
  • Dishwasher
  • Cafeteria Worker
  • Museum Tour Guide
  • Dishwasher (again--the U makes lots of dishes)
  • Lab Tech
  • Junior Assistant to the Junior Assistant Soil Scientist

The U of M

You want to hear something sweet? Bella told me she is going to college at the U so that we can eat lunch together. SQUEE!

The U of M

On this Homecoming week, I am thankful that for me, every week is homecoming!

15 October 2011

Living Room Tour

A new white living room!

Living Room

I do like to paint! Today I came home from work and changed into my painting clothes, just out of reflex. Because I've been working on the living room walls for weeks! Little bit by little bit. Nap time by nap time.

And they turned out just as great as I thought they would. See?

Living Room

All fresh and cheery. I think these are going to be so beautiful for the holidays and will brighten the dark winter. And I love the way the gallery wall turned out over the couch. Very colorful and each item has meaning to our family.

I hung the pictures by the French doors with the idea that they could look ok even with the doors closed, which is how we have it some of the year. So that's why there are three pictures behind the doors. Behind the door wall decor, you saw it here first!

Living Room

You can see into the playroom our old wall color, what they call "greige." I actually really like it still. I just had a bee in my bonnet about white. BUZZ! I think my design aesthetic is maturing into a Swedish Martha Stewart.

Here is our Yamaha electric piano, which I adore. But I would adore it more if Room and Board sold a stand for it. We have the only stand available for it, this cheap (but not cheap) plastic thing. I'd been wanting to sew a skirt or something for it, and even had a surreal piano slipcover sketch going on at one point. It needed to have the cords covered and just needed to look less top heavy in general. Then inspiration hit and Voila! Fabric hanging from 3M command hooks is exactly what I wanted. I loves my piano even more!

Yamaha Piano

I'm putting two of these where two 'can' lights currently are:

We'll see how that goes, because lordy I LOVE electrical projects! (one of the only decorating tasks that I always end up calling in the Y chromosome for)

Speaking of Brent, I was describing to him something like these lights a while back and I used the descriptor "steampunk." Look at me and my advanced style vocabulary! He didn't bat an eye. Apparently before steampunk was a decorating style, it was a niche science fiction genre. And Brent does like a good alternate history! (One that doesn't involve him wiring new lights, I bet!)

The next big thing to happen in here is the fireplace is getting a surround. I had to go to a stone warehouse to pick out the marble. Here's the piece I picked. Pretty, no?

Carrera Marble

Actually this picture doesn't make it look that pretty. But you get the idea. White marble. Very Martha Swedert. Hopefully not very steampunk.

Have a great weekend everyone! We'll be enjoying our new white living room!

09 October 2011

07 October 2011

Operation Desk Recovery

So I'm going to be honest here. This is my desk in the kitchen. Do you have one of these? Does it look like this? OF COURSE NOT. Nobody's desk looks like this! Maybe on hoarders, in which case there would be a distinct possibility of a dead cat underneath all that paperwork. I could be on a hoarders special, Hoarders: Corders Edition. How many cords are there in this picture? (10! but who's counting!). This is the magical place where I sit and blog about my perfect life. And wonder if there is a dead cat in there.

Desk Cleaning: Before

Well I can guar-an-tee there is no dead cat in there, because TAH-DAH!

Desk Cleaning: After


What you're lookin' at right there, THAT is a four-hour project. Once I put my mind to a project I don't typically doodle daddle. But this one? Uff dah.

In case it is useful to anyone, I thought I would share the details!

Electronic Files

I decided to go electronic for a number of previously paper files. We have a 3-in-1 printer so scanning is lickety split. Or I just snap a photo with my phone--clickety split!

  • Scanned then tossed all tax paperwork. I do our taxes electronically anyway so I didn't have too much paper.
  • Scanned then tossed most insurance and investment paperwork
  • I plan to scan and toss paid bill stubs. I have been just throwing these but that probably isn't the best system!
  • Scanned and tossed a bunch of sketches, business cards, kids' activity info, and saved inspiration into Evernote
Paper Files

Pretty much the only thing I ended up keeping in paper files were instruction manuals and a few more lengthy documents about the house or insurance. I went through and saved only the manuals we might actually need. I had manuals for everything--like the Exersaucer for goodness sake! Hello, a baby can operate that. I organized them into plastic accordion files and put them in the file drawer. (Which I have to lock, by the way, since apparently digging around in a file drawer is way more exciting than playing in an adjacent room stuffed with toys! But that's a whole other issue.)

For the moment, I also saved all my medical files in an accordion folder. I was just feeling lazy about those. But I plan on scanning them in too.

I also found firesafe-worthy documents just hanging out on my desk--so I got those tucked away properly.


This is the heart of the problem--mail, school papers, my precious Entertainment Weeklies, dead cats... you know what I'm talking about. I labeled our 6 sorters in the cupboard: 
  1. Unpaid Bills
  2. To Be Filed (paper or scan)
  3. RSVPs & Calendar (invitations or reminders)
  4. Stamps (these are here because we keep them away from the kids and then can never find them the two times a year that we need one)
  5. Menus (and menu-related coupons, like pizza coupons)
  6. For Scrapbooking (this is for little things)
I put two letter-size trays on the shelf above, labeled Bella and Emily, for the school projects they bring home that I want to either save or decide about later.

I put a magazine file on the desk for my "To Read" file. That is where Entertainment Weekly and my 40 catalogs per week go. 

Desk Cleaning: New Sorters

I also added a little IKEA tray on the counter as the place where I put my phone and my camera. Two things I am always running around the house unable to find. "Whhheeeerrrrreee'ss my CAMmmmmmerrrraaaaa???"

So. I officially declare Operation Desk Recovery a success! Now back to my perfect life! ;)

06 October 2011

Recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto

Eat some risotto,
that's our motto,
don't forget the photo,
Eat some risotto!

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves 4

1 Butternut Squash
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
a little nutmeg
a little rosemary
grated parmesan (more than a little!)

Cut the squash in half the long way, then in half the long way again to get four pieces. Put them in 13x9 pan and pour a little juice over them (apple or orange, whatever you have). I also sprinkle them with cinnamon. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, depending on how big your squash pieces are. I like this part because it makes the house smell all warm and squashy.

When the squashy is done, scoop it out of the peels. You can smash it with a potato masher if you want. We like ours either way, but I tend towards the non-mashed version because I am usually trying to complete this all in the time it takes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and so am dashing around the kitchen with ingredients balanced on my head a la Rachel Ray. Actually now that I think of it, I have several times used canned pumpkin to speed up the process. Still delicious.

Heat up the butter and olive oil in a large-ish heavy pan. Also, in a separate pan, bring the stock to a simmer. In the butter and oil, sauté the shallots for a couple minutes, then add the rice and cook for 5 minutes, but don't let it brown. Add the wine.  Cook, stirring, adding ladle-fulls of stock and scoops of squash until the rice is soft and firm. This should take about 20 minutes. Add in the nutmeg and rosemary, a big scoop of parmesan, and a tablespoon or so more butter. You can hold this for a bit on the stove with the lid on if you remember to turn off the heat while you go change Señorita Poopypants. Oops.

Will they eat it?

Short answer: lukewarm yes

Supper time

Analysis: They were by far the most excited about the edamame, one of their favorite vegetables, although they managed to eat a small helping each of the risotto. Which was fine because then there is MORE RISOTTO FOR ME. We had actually not had the edamame in the shells in eons (it came in the CSA box), I always buy the shelled because I figure it is easier for the kids. But apparently I was totally unawares of what makes an exciting vegetable. I will now share that with you in case it helps you out at all. It is a trash bowl. A trash bowl! For your shells!

Apparently trash bowls are the new dip.